My wife has the worst body language in the world—very difficult to read. Before we ever dated, we were supposed to hang out one night in a group. Eventually, everyone canceled leaving the two of us alone which made me happy because I had a crush on her. We spent the next six hours together. The entire night, I was seeing signals that she liked me. In my opinion, it was overwhelmingly clear and I intended to ask her out on the ride home. She picked up on that and realized she had sent the wrong signals. Fearing that I was going to ask her out, she talked so quickly on the ride home that I couldn’t get a word in. Before she sprinted out of the car, I still risked it and asked her out. That’s when I got hit with, “I’m sorry. I just want to be friends.”
Eventually, I won her over and, ten years later, I still misinterpret her body language from time to time. Our non-verbals communicate just as much as our spoken words. Understanding body language will help avoid breakdowns with our wives and kids. Becoming an expert in postures, arm motions, and facial expressions can save hurt feelings and enhance communication. Take a look at what the two of you are communicating with your body language.
The eyes are a lamp to the soul. Making eye contact shows that you are engaged and interested. Looking away occasionally communicates that you are processing what she is saying. However, if you look away, and off into the distance a lot, more than likely you are going to give her the impression that you are not paying attention. She’ll feel as though you don’t care. If either of you is looking at the ground, it means there are feelings of intimidation, defeat, hurt, or sadness. Rapid blinking denotes someone is feeling uncomfortable or upset. Squinted eyes can communicate sympathy, but more often send a message of skepticism. Eye-rolling is a sarcastic dismissal (avoid at all costs).
Besides the obvious frown and smile, the mouth can reveal quite a bit. Pursed lips, for example, tell her that you either don’t approve or trust her–or what she is saying. Biting the lips shows a person that is anxious or worried. Hands covering the mouth is someone that is hiding an emotional reaction. It may reveal some insecurity or lack of confidence.
The hands can disarm and draw in, or they can push away and make her defensive. Keeping your hands open is inviting. It says that you are open-minded and ready to hear what she has to say. This is especially true when your palm faces up. It shows you are looking to connect like reaching out to hold hands. Palms down can be perceived as pushing away or putting down. Never close your fist. It communicates anger and that you are closed off. Be careful when using exaggerated motions with your hand. Sometimes it shows excitement which can be good in certain situations, but in an argument, it escalates the tension.
When thinking about posture, the most powerful way to connect is by mirroring. It’s making the same pose and forming the same posture as her. Many times we do it naturally without thinking about it. Mirroring powerfully communicates a desire to connect and be on the same page. When you see her strike the same pose, it means you are on the right track. On your part, keep this in mind and consciously do it when you two are having trouble connecting. In a disagreement, stay away from slouching, crossing your arms and legs, and putting your hands on your hips. If you are slouching, it shows a lack of confidence or that you have checked out. Crossing arms and legs says that you are defensive and closed off. Hands on the hips means you are aggressively challenging her.
Be aware of your volume and pitch. Raising your volume escalates things and shows you are trying to dominate. Lowering your volume can communicate that you are trying to calm things down; however, going too low (close to a mumble) can give off the impression you are withholding or hiding something. A higher pitch shows excitement or irritation while a lower pitch is more relaxed. During an argument, try to maintain a lower pitch to help diffuse things. Be aware of how placing an emphasis on certain words can change the meaning of what you say. Emphasize words of love and understanding.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife tonight and ask, “What look that I give you do you enjoy the most?”